Tuesday, March 31

Monday Farm Photo: Flash of Butterfly Brilliance

I Love That Splash of Red

Want to catch more flutterbys? No net required!
Look What Landed At My Feet
Butterfly Conference
5/11/06: My Good Deed For The Day
Farms Depend On Pollinators
You Can't Have Too Many Pollinators Around
6/24/06: Butterflies & Sheep & I Love Spiderwort
Butterfly Paradise
Obsessed With Bunnies & Butterflies
The Stuff Of Life
Butterfly Bonanza
8/26/06: Butterfly Photos Are Better Than Nothing
8/14/07: Joint Pollination Task Force
9/11/07: Welcoming Autumn with Open Arms
9/27/07: The Squash Blossom Butterfly
1/1/08: Fortunately All Flowers Look Perfect to Pollinators
5/8/08: Luna Moth Love (and an amazing butterfly book)
7/8/08: Winged Spectacular

© Copyright 2009 FarmgirlFare.com, the fly by (or should that be flying by? As in, How did I just go a whole week without blogging?) foodie farm blog where we're joyfully winging our way through early spring with butterflies and bats and hawks—but thankfully no annoying insects yet (and only a couple of ticks).

Tuesday, March 24

Recipe: Quick and Easy Refried Black Bean Dip with Tomatoes, Onions, and Cilantro

Going Bonkers for Canned Beans

Leftover Grilled Pork and Garden Tomatoes Became a Quick and Healthy Late Summer Lunch

I'm a big fan of canned beans. I buy them by the case and always have stacks of them on hand in the pantry. They're cheap, convenient, keep for ages, and go with practically everything. Don't get me wrong—I think it's great that everybody seems to be jumping on the dried bean bandwagon these days (my Roasted Garlic Lover's White Bean Soup is one of the most searched for recipes on Farmgirl Fare), and I'll be the first to admit that canned beans aren't as tasty as home cooked.

But while I live for slow food and cooking from scratch—and routinely let homemade chicken stock simmer for five or six hours on the stove (which not only tastes fabulous but makes the house smell so good)—last year's plan to start cooking up a pound of dried beans once a week still has yet to begin. Sometimes you just need to bypass your best intentions and head for the canned bean aisle instead, because everybody knows that canned beans are infinitely better than no beans.

For years I've snacked on garbanzo beans (also called chickpeas) simply rinsed and sprinkled with salt. I also toss them into everything from Arugula Pesto to Roasted Red Pepper and Tomato Soup. A handful of garbanzos or kidney beans can turn a salad into a meal, and canned black beans are the star of my Mexican Jumping Bean Slaw.

A while back I discovered cannellini beans, which are sometimes called white kidney beans, and quickly began adding them to everything from Greek Salad to summer squash saut├ęs. Then I got hooked on white bean spreads, which have to be the easiest appetizer ever. Plunk a rinsed can of beans, some sort of flavoring, and a little olive oil into the food processor and whiz for a couple of seconds. I started with pesto and quickly moved onto pretty much anything in the pantry: artichokes, roasted red peppers, sun-dried tomatoes, and that yummy olive bruschetta stuff sold in pretty octagonal jars at Trader Joe's. White bean spread is guilt-free and addictive.

Full of fiber and nutrients and a good source of protein, beans are one of the healthiest foods around, and moderation isn't really necessary. But when I began craving cold leftover baked beans for breakfast a while back, I started to get a little concerned. And when I found myself standing in the kitchen scooping up refried black beans straight from the can with tortilla chips, I knew I could do better.

So what do you like to do with canned beans?

Quick and Easy Refried Black Bean Dip

This is the kind of thing I love to have in the fridge because it keeps me from grabbing a cookie or a slice of chocolate cake or a handful of cheese and crackers instead of something healthier and more substantial when I walk into the kitchen starving. It's incredibly versatile and can be made in summer with juicy, vine-ripened tomatoes or in winter with some good canned tomatoes.

Use it thick as a dip with tortilla chips or a burrito filling, or thin it out and top a platter of nachos. You can even turn it into a dressing for a Tex-Mex inspired salad like the impromptu one pictured above that I made last summer with heirloom tomatoes from the kitchen garden and chunks of leftover grilled pork.

As always, I urge you to seek out local and organic ingredients, as they really do make a difference in so many ways. Quality of canned beans can vary greatly by brand, and I've found that the organic ones taste best. Cans of organic beans are readily available in natural foods stores and many supermarkets and can often be found for the bargain price of about a dollar apiece. Some stores, such as Whole Foods, will even give you a case discount if you stock up and buy 12 cans at a time.

1 can refried black beans (I like the jalapeno flavored kind)
1 cup chopped tomatoes (fresh or canned)
1/4 cup (or more*) chopped onions or scallions
2 teaspoons paprika
1 teaspoon cumin (freshly ground is amazing)
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 4-1/2 ounce can chopped mild green chilies or 1/2 cup salsa
Large handful cilantro, chopped

Sour cream
Shredded cheese
Chopped scallions
Chopped tomatoes
Avocado chunks

Combine all ingredients in a bowl and mix well. This dip tastes best after the flavors have had a chance to mingle, so try to make it up at least a few hours before serving and let it chill in the fridge. Serve warm or cold, garnished as desired.

Still hungry? Here are more Farmgirl Fare recipes that call for canned beans:
Arugula Pesto, Arugula Pesto Cream Cheese Spread, & Arugula Pesto Pizza
Basil Pesto and White Bean Spread
Colors of Summer Tomato and Fresh Vegetable Salad
Mexican Jumping Bean Slaw & Quick Vegetarian Tacos
Swiss Chard Cabbage Salad with Cottage Cheese and Broccoli Stalks
Fast Black Bean Soup/Chili
Broccoli, Onion, and Garbanzo Bean Soup
Roasted Red Pepper, Tomato, and Artichoke Soup
Quick Cream (or Not) of Artichoke Soup
Swiss Chard Artichoke Soup with Garbanzo Beans

*6/09 update: I'm loving my sweet spring onions from the garden so much I tossed at least a cup of them into today's batch of dip. Delicious!

© Copyright 2009 FarmgirlFare.com, the bonkers for beans foodie farm blog where Farmgirl Susan shares recipes, stories, and photos from her crazy country life on 240 remote Missouri acres—and leftover baked beans for breakfast are actually rather tasty, especially when warmed up and served over a piece of toasted homemade honey bran bread.

Monday, March 23

Monday Dose of Cute: Bear Hug

Looks Like His Attempts to Impress the Girls Were Successful

© Copyright 2009 FarmgirlFare.com, the big dog foodie farm blog where Daisy is either giving him a hug or putting him in a headlock, but no matter what, Lucky Buddy Bear is loving the attention—we think.

Sunday, March 22

Sunday Dose of Cute: Trying to Impress the Girls

But It's a Little Embearrassing

© Copyright 2009 FarmgirlFare.com, the lovesick foodie farm blog where we believe in a well-rounded diet for all, which meant that a quick chest freezer cleanout yesterday yielded a Tex Mex breakfast of leftover nacho pie for Bear and the big girls (picky beagle Robin doesn't do ethnic cuisine, especially if it contains tomatoes and cilantro) that was greeted with confused sniffs at first but was happily inhaled seconds later.

Friday, March 20

Friday Farm Photo: Happy First Day (Night?) of Spring!

Does Anything Say It Better than Daffodils?

© Copyright 2009 FarmgirlFare.com, the cheerful yellow foodie farm blog where a quick count this morning estimated the number of blooming daffodils in the yard (which faithfully appear year after year without even the slightest bit of assistance on our part) at around an astonishing 400 flowers—including a small clump that has jumped over and popped up next to the flowering quince (another no maintenance favorite), as well as two cute little rows of blooms that are marching their way across the lawn under the clothesline. What a perfect excuse not to mow the grass.

Thursday, March 19

Thursday Dose of Cute: Nap Time

That's Our Crazy Daisy

© Copyright 2009
FarmgirlFare.com, the four-footed foodie farm blog where there's a certain time each afternoon when as you're walking around the farm while you work, it quickly becomes obvious that just about everyone else except you is sound asleep. And they say animals aren't as smart as humans.

Tuesday, March 17

Tuesday Farm Photos: Backyard Beauty

Ravenous, Brazen Beauty

That's Fortunately Still (Mostly) Afraid of Barking Dogs

Highlights from a year ago:
3/2/08: How Do Donkeys Order Lunch?
3/4/08: Auntie Rose
3/5/08: Seasonal Eating
3/6/08: Do Chickens Ever Smile?
3/12/08: Cary Babies?
3/13/08: Cary, No Baby
3/17/08: Hey Baby!

Two years ago:
3/5/07: Zelda and Her Twins, Age Two Hours
3/8/07: Doll Face and Her Baby Boy Bonding in Their Bonding Suite
3/9/07: Moving Zelda and Her Twins By Myself
3/15/07: Gang Activity
3/16/07: The Definition of Relaxed

Three years ago:
3/1/06: I'll Spring to Life If There's Trouble
3/2/06: A Brief Distraction from All the Cuteness
3/3/06: Skinny Chip Checks Out One of the Little Attention Grabbers
3/4/06: Farm Boss Patchy Cat Keeps an Eye on Everything
3/5/06: You Can Add Babysitting to Bear's Job Description
3/8/06: Another Farmyard Still Life
3/8/06: Counting Sheep, Not Getting Much Sleep
3/10/06: Life When You're 12 Hours Old
3/10/06: Fleeting Heart
3/13/06: I'm Gonna Need More Than Spun Gold for Breakfast
3/14/06: A Whole New Way to Start the Day (thanks to Dan's Friends)
3/17/06: Same Scene, New View for St. Patrick's Day

And out of the kitchen and garden came:
3/12/06: The Great Compost Cover Up
3/10/08: Broccoli Onion Garbanzo Bean Soup & Recharging Your Dead Batteries (Because Setting Them on Fire Isn't an Option)
3/1/08: Onion & Herb Crusted Lamb Spareribs and Grilled Lamb Steaks

© Copyright 2009 FarmgirlFare.com, the quickly greening up foodie farm blog (another heatwave!) where the white-tailed deer don't need a St. Patrick's Day excuse to munch on their favorite color in the hayfield—which happens to be off limits after March 1st so the grass can grow, but only the domesticated animals pay attention to this rule (and only because we fence them out). But I'd rather have the deer in the hayfield than in the garden!

Thursday, March 12

Thursday Dose of Cute: Where There Are Flowers. . .

There Are Usually Dogs (At Least That's How It Works Around This Farm)

Calling All Owners of Rescued and Adopted Dogs: Your Pet Could Be One of the 2009 Faces of Love!

How can you not love somebody who proudly calls herself a 'crazy dog lady?' That would be my dear friend and talented artist, Leigh Jackson, who says in her bio, "I found the loves of my life—except my husband—at animal shelters." Leigh's affordable modern dog portraits, which wonderfully capture the unique spirit of each beloved animal, are in hundreds of dog-loving homes worldwide (including many Hollywood celebrities') and have been featured in such publications as Mary Engelbreit's Home Companion and the Miami Herald.

Leigh's latest project is called Faces of Love, and you're invited to submit photos of your dog for consideration (with no obligation to purchase a portrait). "I am looking to paint all the wonderful rescued and adopted dogs out there: big, small, furry and not so furry," explains Leigh. She wants to share their stories, too, like Jak's, who is pictured below. He's a "foster dog extraordinaire" who "has raised upward of 50 kittens and helped rehabilitated 5 injured dogs. . . and even helped raise a baby squirrel."

Ten percent of purchases from this year-long project, which includes paintings, prints, a 2010 calendar, and a compilation book, will be donated to A Place to Bark Animal Rescue, Bernie Berlin's amazing sanctuary in Tennessee. I've written about Bernie and her tireless efforts to save hundreds of unwanted dogs and puppies from certain death before. She is a true inspiration, and I thank all of you who have generously made donations to A Place to Bark.

You can learn more about Leigh's 2009 Faces of Love project here, and you can see the dogs she's already painted—along with the photos that she painted them from—here. I know many of you have welcomed rescued and adopted animals into your lives, and I hope you'll let me know if your dog becomes one of the 2009 Faces of Love!

© Copyright 2009 FarmgirlFare.com, the laid back furry foodie farm blog where even if the dogs are sitting right on top of the flowers (which is what Bear happens to be doing in this photo), we still wouldn't trade them for the world. And besides, at least the dogs don't eat the the flowers like some of the critters around here do.

Thursday Farm Photo: More Flowers (And More Snow?)

The First Daffodils in the Front Yard are Up!

Need a Bigger Bouquet Today?
You'll find all sorts of colorful blooms here and here.

© 2009 FarmgirlFare.com, the warm and toasty foodie farm blog where the heat is once again coming from the woodstove rather than the blazing sun (which is the way it's suppsed to be this time of year), although we're not quite sure about another snowstorm. They did take the predicted 2 to 4 inches of accumulation out of the forecast, which is probably just fine with the daffodils.

Monday, March 9

Monday Farm Photo: Hello Crocuses!

What a Lovely Little Surprise

© Copyright 2009 FarmgirlFare.com, the naturally color coordinated foodie farm blog where a huge display of flowers is always gorgeous, but around here more often than not just two little ones will do (especially when they're bulbs you planted years ago that only bloom once in a while)—and the reason I'm still awake this late is because I have a pear cake in the oven (and a cookbook deadline looming). But at least I know what will be on the menu for breakfast!

Sunday, March 8

Sunday Dose of Cute: Almost

But Not Quite (taken spring 2007 and forgotten until now)

Welcome Country Living Magazine Readers!

So many wonderful things have happened as a result of starting Farmgirl Fare nearly four years ago, but being featured in a magazine I've loved for more than 20 years is definitely one of the best!

I was thrilled when pet expert, author, and awesome dog rescuer Julia Szabo e-mailed me last fall to say that I was going to be the subject of her March Country Living column, and I had a great time talking with her on the phone about life on the farm with all of my critters (don't you just love the word critters?).

I suppose that technically our conversations were interviews, but I don't think I've ever laughed so much during one. Julia is a dog-loving hoot who swore me to secrecy over just how many rescued canines she shares her New York City apartment with. (Hint: it's more than five.)

I'm a little late getting this welcome announcement up since the March issue has already been out for weeks, but I suppose I could say that I was simply waiting for the online version of "Loving Livestock"—which can be found here—to be published. And yes, it's complete with a photo of very camera shy me.

For those of you who have been kindly asking about everybody's favorite hen (or at least that's what she thinks she is) Whitey the Chicken, please know that at a rather amazing nine years old she is still doing just fine—but if you thought she was full of herself before, you should see her now that she and her baby chicks are national magazine superstars. Who knew such a tiny bird could have such an enormous ego. (She was actually pushing for the main photo in the story to be of her.)

It's been so much fun hearing from new readers who came to visit after seeing the article as well as those of you who saw the story and realized that you already knew me. Some of you even recognized the donkeys! A big thanks to Julia and to all of your for your continued support. We wouldn't be here without you.

© Copyright 2009 FarmgirlFare.com, the Country Living loving foodie farm blog where we're almost but not quite into lambing season, but if you can't wait until next month to see more adorable bouncing babies, you'll find lots of links to little lambies here.

Saturday, March 7

Saturday Farm Photo: Cluck! Cluck! Cluck!


Both the chickens and the egg came before this post:
2/11/09: Ready for the Backyard Bird Count? (lots of fine feathered links)
7/1/07: On Loving Lettuce—and Topping It with Eggs for Breakfast
11/11/08: Farm Fresh Eggs, They're What's for Breakfast

© Copyright 2009 FarmgirlFare.com, the hard-boiled foodie farm blog where we're thrilled that our little flock of eight chickens (which includes 3 extremely old hens and one colorful and studly rooster) is providing us with eggs again (to the surprising tune of four or five a day!), but laying an egg that big just had to hurt.

Thursday, March 5

Thursday Dose of Cute: Last Snow Photo of the Season

Don't They Just Look

© Copyright 2009 FarmgirlFare.com, the hot and cold foodie farm blog where the weather can make up its mixed up mind any old time. Twelve degrees two mornings ago and a balmy 70 this afternoon. The daffodils even poked up!

Wednesday, March 4

Wednesday Dose of Cute: Food as Furniture

Marta Guard on overdrive—or just got cold feet?

Want a bigger dose of our hilarious, yet wonderfully ferocious, fluffy white dog?
Marta Baby Pictures
7/27/08: Siesta Time
10/26/08: Mostly Marta
10/28/08: Just Doing Her Job
11/6/08: Maybe Marta
1/24/09: Keeping the Food Supply Safe
2/1/09: Moping Marta
2/4/09: Three Dog Sight
2/7/09: Being Watched

© 2009 FarmgirlFare.com, the animal filled foodie farm blog where I promise there really will be some recipes posted here soon.

Tuesday, March 3

Tuesday Second Dose of Cute:
Just How Deep Was That Snow?

It Was Up to a Beagle's Belly!

Want to see Robin in warmer temperatures (and with her legs)?
The Story of How Robin Trotted Into My Life
Peek-a-Boo Beagle
Sitting At the Front Yard Gate
Robin's Smile Is Infectious
One Hot & Happy Beagle
We Have Llama Contact!
From Out of the Fog, A Little Beagle Dog
Year Round Thankfulness
Robin Loves Deer Season

Robin & Leopold
She Knows Every Warm Spot on the Farm
Fresh Spring Water is Better than Evian
Busted Nesting in my New Garden Bed
Beagle in Paradise
Heading Out on Her Morning Route
Robin Loves Life on the Farm
Hot Dog vs. Parched Pussycat
It's Monday Morning. Wake Up!
Ear Flaps Up? Check.

Curious & Oblivious (aka Patchy Cat & Robin)
Haying Supervisor
One Hardworking Beagle

After Some Fluffy White Puppy Kisses
8/9/08: Puppy Love
10/5/08: Little Beagle, Large Backyard
11/3/08: A Girl's Gotta Draw the Line Somewhere

2/4/09: Three Dog Sight
3/3/09: Little Beagle, Big Snowstorm
7/4/09: The Dog Days of Haying Season
7/9/09: It's My Birthday!
8/7/09: Why I Don't Landscape the Front Yard
11/23/09: Thirteen Years and She's Still Got It
1/24/2010: Cold Backs, Warm Heart?

© Copyright 2009 FarmgirlFare.com, the little dog foodie farm blog where we'll go months without mentioning Robin, and then sometimes it's double or nothing.

Tuesday Dose of Cute: Little Beagle

Big Snowstorm

Want an even bigger snowstorm?
You'll find links to lots more snowy farm photos here and here.

© Copyright 2009 FarmgirlFare.com, the still white foodie farm blog where 12-year-old, semi-retired Robin now spends most of each winter curled up next to the woodstove, but she hasn't neglected all of her farmly duties—especially the ones that include ferociously fending off those crazy wayward donkeys.

Sunday, March 1

Sunday Farm Photos: Snow! (Again!)

Looking Past the Front Yard Gate To the Sheep Barn Yesterday Afternoon

Because we're in such an unpopulated area, our online weather comes from either 25 miles to the north or 60 miles to the south. Despite the further distance, the southern forecasts are usually more accurate so I pretty much always rely on them.

Yesterday our predicted snow accumulation went from three to four inches down to just one to two inches, much to our relief. But when it became increasingly apparent that we had more than two inches of snow piled up out there no matter how or where you measured it, and it was still heavily falling (I believe the technical term used by the professional weather people to describe what was going on was "freezing snow fog,") Joe had the brilliant idea to check the northern forecast. Aha. Five to six inches.

We ended up getting about nine inches of snow in less than six hours. This is pretty unusual for us, especially in very late February.

Looking Ahead To Last Night

You might even say it was something worth celebrating.

© Copyright 2009 FarmgirlFare.com, the once again snowed in foodie farm blog where the very white landscape is gorgeous, but it's a pain to get around in—and it really puts a damper on your "let's get an early start this year" garden planting plans.